Tuesday, March 27

Bye-Bye Kami-Chuu

Bird-Watching Pose
2nensei class
Inspired by the Connares of Anderson Pl. and beyond

Yesterday was the Closing Ceremonies for the schools in town. I wasn't scheduled to go, but as it was my last chance to see the kids, of course I grabbed it. And it was worth it.

First was the regular Closing Ceremony where I got all teary before they even did anything. And when they sang the kouka, or alma mater... Anyway, it was a half-hour ceremony where Kouchou-sensei gave the report cards to the highest scorers in each grade (class), and gave what was an apparently amusing story about life and cats. I would have liked to have understood.

After that Aya-sensei brought me to the 2nensei class where they gave me a collection of good wishes on a ring and I cried while I gave a little speech to them. Little.


Ninensei's Messages
In Japanese it says "Abbey-sensei"


Dai-chan's Message
From my favorite Ninensei
"Thank you very much for the fun games you made for English class."


From there I had free time while they all had long homerooms, so I went to visit the 3nensei and cleaned out my desk. And had Tea Time.

The last part of the school day was the Sayonara Ceremony where the four of us who are leaving (Kouchou-sensei, Inaba-sensei, Kitagawa-sensei and I) were recognized. That was the whole point of the entire ceremony.

First, the four of us walked in from the back of the "gymnatorium" while everyone clapped. We took our seats on the stage and then Kouchou-sensei introduced each of us with a long introduction, during which we stood on the stage. It was shortly before this point that I realized that in my haste to go to the bathroom just before running to go to the gym, I hadn't properly fastened my pants, and the long tab was hanging down. Great. While Inaba-sensei gave her emotional speech, I used it as a diversion to adjust myself. Phew!

Anyway, for my introducion, Kouchou-sensei remembered how he had introduced me by my supervisor's name (a man) a year ago, during the Opening Ceremony. He then had Kyoto-sensei show the kids some stick-figure drawings that I'd done for class, and that had apparently impressed him (probably because one of them was of him!).


You don't want to see the "vase" these beautiful flowers ended up in...

After our speeches, the kids came up and gave each of us flowers and another little something, one by one. The two 1nensei seitokai (student council) representatives brought mine, and it was appropriate that it be Ryuuta, who has been super "shy" with me - on purpose, because you know he secretly likes my attention! - and Masaki, who is such a gem, and whose house I got to see the outside of. After they gave me the flowers and the "album" you see below, we did the bow and handshake, and then I couldn't let the moment pass without hugging them. Awkward for them indeed! Aya-sensei had prepped them earlier, telling them that I would probably hug them, and that they should "take it." Poor things, but you know they liked it!

To practice the past tense, which they just learned, Aya-sensei had the kids write letters and address them to me. So cute!
Notice how two of them include chocolate. That's me eating it on Daichi's letter. I
wish I had a chocolate bar that big.

At the end, we walked back out the rear of the gym, while everyone stood and clapped, and the1-2nensei ran to stand on either side of our path. So cute!

Last night was the Closing Day Enkai. I was the last to arrive (albeit on time), and got claps when I got there. Kawaii! We had a great dinner, and they even had a "Graduation Ceremony" for those of us who are leaving, complete with "diplomas," which were personalized and read aloud, potted flowers and a decent sum of money. Sugoi. It really was a great culmination of a great year.

"Oh-toh-toh-toh-toh"
With Ogawa-sensei, as she refills my uron-cha (Oolong Tea) glass.
The glasses are nice and small, providing ample opportunity to refill them for other people, even if they're nearly full already. I've been learning the Ways of Japanese Drinking from Yamada-sensei who always finishes off his glass before someone fills it for him.

On top of all that, I was able to mix and mingle and have conversations with different people, in Japanese. I left feeling really good. Ii nee!

And so, my year at my LMS has come to an end. In my speech I referred to the old phrase, "'Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all." Although changing districts would have been easier had I not ever gone to Kami Chuu and fell in love with it, my life would have been dimmer for it. I am so lucky to have been able to be a part of that school, and I can't express that enough to you or to the people who make it so special. But I've tried!

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